Top Kitesurfing Destinations

It may look daunting at first, but it’s a fairly easy sport to take up. Yes, like any other watersport, you need balance and discipline. But in kitesurfing, you get a big assist from the elements. Given the right conditions, a novice can soon look like an old pro, and the experience is exhilarating for beginners and more experienced wave riders alike. Here are some of the world’s top spots for kitesurfing, whether it’s your first time or you’re looking for a new challenge. Just add wind and water.

Maui


Ka‘a Point on the north shore of Maui near the airport has a great combination of water conditions, with a protected cove that has flat water close to the shore, chop in intermediate depths and good jumping waves just off the point. Nearby “Action Beach” is home to instructional schools and a good place for learners to get started. Watch the pros compete in contests at Ho‘okipa Beach and pick up some pointers. Take your lessons well enough and you just might be able to join them yourself on a future visit.

Turks and Caicos


Quickly emerging as a destination for kitesurfing, Turks and Caicos match up well against any other Caribbean islands in quality. On Providenciales, the main island, Long Bay Beach has soft sand and shallow waters particularly forgiving to first-timers, with a long flat ride. Though it’s just a few minutes from popular Grace Bay Beach, Long Bay is often uncrowded, leaving you plenty of room to work. Once you have experience under your belt, Grace Bay’s deeper waters and northeast winds make for a rewarding challenge, producing plenty of chops and a good break off the reef about a mile out.

Tarifa, Spain


Just a glance at the map explains why Tarifa is the kitesurfing capital of Europe. Situated on the Atlantic side of the Strait of Gibraltar, just across from Africa, there’s a 6-mile stretch of beach that’s basically a huge wind tunnel. The wind coming from the east is generally consistent and not too heavy, making it easy for just about anyone to catch a smooth ride. Where things pick up is when the from the west blows in, building speed as it does so and gusting close to 60 mph at times, often for days or weeks at a time.

Nabq Bay, Egypt


On the Sinai Peninsula, where the Gulf of Aqaba (aka Gulf of Eilat) meets the Red Sea, conditions are ripe for kitesurfing. Tiran Island sits at the meeting point, creating twin lagoons that are shallow with sandy bottoms. One area is perfect for beginners, while experienced riders flock to the other. Though kitesurfing only began in the area about a quarter-century ago, it easily became recognized worldwide as a mecca for enthusiasts.

Cumbuco, Brazil


Brazil has more than 4,500 miles of coastline, so it’s no surprise that some stretch of it is one of the top spots in the world for something. As Ipanema and Copacabana beaches are the places to see, be seen and party, Cumbuco on the country’s northeastern coast is the place to catch wind and waves. The weather is almost always perfect, the wind is steady and there is a tight-knit community of devotees who train regularly. With zones of flat water and areas with high waves, it’s a great place to start out and work your way up as your skills and confidence improve.

Top Gardens Around the World

If you have a garden, no doubt you’ve spent countless hours trying to make it just right. You’ve hand-selected flowers and other plants and researched the best methods for growing them and keeping them alive. For National Garden Week, we thought we’d showcase some of our favorite gardens around the world. While yours might never look like these, maybe you can take a break, plan a trip and get a few pointers.

Butchart Gardens


Not to be missed on any trip to Vancouver, the gardens have been a staple in Victoria, across the Salish Sea on Vancouver Island for more than 100 years. Built atop a former quarry, the gardens cover 55 acres and feature 900 plant varieties. The main attraction is the sunken garden, full of planted beds, trees and shrubs. Other highlights include the specialized Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, and Italian Garden. Don’t feel too bad if your efforts don’t measure up; Butchart employs 50 full-time gardeners.

Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden


Spread over 500 acres in southern Thailand, Nong Nooch has sections dedicated to cacti, orchids, palms, agave and topiary trees, among many others. The gardens also serve as a seed bank for Cycads, which have been around for at least 135 million years and previously had a much wider range than they do now. There is a garden built around an homage to Stonehenge and one featuring architecture from across Southeast Asia as well as a “garden” of more than 60 classic cars.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden


In a beautiful setting on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town, Kirstenbosch manages to make the most of limited water resources, producing flora over 1,300 acres that are home to more than 125 bird species, plus exotic animal species such as Cape porcupine, water mongoose, and Cape clawless otter. Butterflies, most notably the Table Mountain Beauty, also frequent the area in summer. Free guided 90-minute tours are offered to help visitors navigate the vast park.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden


Central Park isn’t the only green space in New York City. As with anything in New York, space is at a premium, but the Brooklyn Botanic Garden manages to pack a lot in 52 acres of Prospect Park. There are specialty gardens dedicated to roses, cherry trees, native flora and plants mentioned in the works of Shakespeare. June blooms will be highlighted by heirloom tomatoes, Japanese wisteria, pineapples and several species of rose.

Villa d’Este


On the grounds of Renaissance villa in Tivoli an hour outside of Rome, this UNESCO world heritage site had a profound impact on the development of other gardens throughout Europe. Fifty-one fountains and 64 waterfalls feed terraces themed after various gods and other figures from mythology. The villa and gardens were celebrated in sketches, paintings and writings during the Renaissance and Romantic periods to the point that they inspired the gardens at Versailles and Sanssouci Palace, among many others.

Top International Lakes to Visit

Last week we focused on lake destinations in the U.S. in anticipation of Memorial Day. We couldn’t write our favorite domestic spots without also mentioning some great lakes in other corners of the globe. There are few things better than hitting the water on a beautiful sunny day, and these lakes deliver.

 

Lake Como


Northern Italy is full of gorgeous glacial lakes, and Como is the jewel in the crown. With an amazing combination of natural and human-made beauty, it’s impossible to go anywhere without having to stop and marvel. Take a boat over to Bellagio and browse the shop-lined streets for silks before lunch at Locanda dell’Isola Comacina on the lake’s lone island. In between, cruise by the ornate villas replete with perfectly manicured gardens that line the shores, set against the backdrop of alpine foothills.

 

Lake Louise


A spectacular emerald color thanks to glacial and rock runoff, Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, is a picture-perfect sight to behold. You could spend hours just gazing from the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. At almost 6,000 feet of elevation with mountains and trails all around, it’s an outdoorsman’s paradise year-round. In winter, there’s world-class skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, dog-sledding and sleigh rides. In summer, there’s canoeing, hiking, and horseback riding, plus the ski gondolas remain in operation to whisk visitors over alpine meadows and babbling brooks.

 

Lake Pichola


The lake’s construction in the 14th century inspired the founding of the city of Udaipur, which is today in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and lavish palaces along the shoreline and on islands. The Jagdish Temple dedicated to Vishnu sports a 79-foot high pagoda with ornately carved statues on several levels. The white marble Maharajah’s Palace, mosaiced Winter Palace, yellow sandstone Jag Mandir and granite and marble Jag Niwas (now a hotel) are architectural marvels. The Virtuoso-preferred Leela Palace Udaipur and The Oberoi Udaivillas occupy prime real estate on the shore.

 

Lake Titicaca


Straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia, Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,507 feet and the largest lake in South America. The lake is a mecca for bird-watchers, the floating islands made of reeds by the pre-Incan Uros people are unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere. Ancient temples stand on many of the more than 40 islands in the lake, which has been considered sacred by the several civilizations that have sprung up around it. Virtuoso-preferred Titilaka Relais & Chateaux makes for the perfect base for exploration.

 

Lake Wakatipu


In the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island near a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu stretches for 50 adrenaline-pumping miles. Parasailing, canyoneering, and bungee-jumping are a few of the favorite area pastimes, while the vineyards of Gibbston Valley offer respite after a hard day of adventure. Queenstown has the distinction of being both a lake town and a ski town, serving as a recreation capital, while Virtuoso-preferred Eichardt’s Private Hotel, Matakauri Lodge, and Blanket Bay are homes away from home.

Top U.S. Lake Destinations

Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner, marking the unofficial start of summer for many Americans. It’s a holiday to reflect on the sacrifices made by the men and women who gave their lives serving in the U.S. armed forces. It’s also become a holiday for backyard cookouts and getting out on the water. In that regard, the U.S. is blessed with myriad lakes that can be enjoyed all summer long.

 

Lake Michigan


Touching four states, Lake Michigan has more than 1,600 miles of shoreline and the most beaches of any lake in the country. From the popular urban beaches of Chicago — you’ll never run out of things to do on Oak Street Beach or North Avenue Beach — to the giant dunes found in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin to idyllic islands, Lake Michigan has something for those who want to be in the heart of action and those looking to get away from it all.

 

Lake Tahoe


With clear water and a ring of mountains all around, Lake Tahoe is first and foremost a feast for the eyes. It has plenty to offer your other senses, too, serving as a playground for skiing and other winter sports during cold months and for parasailing and other water sports when the weather turns warm. Elevated hiking and biking trails offer spectacular views, and casinos on the Nevada side of the lake provided entertainment year-round. Receive exclusive amenities when staying at the Virtuoso-preferred Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe or Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.

 

Table Rock Lake


While nearby Lake of the Ozarks may be more well-known, Table Rock in the Ozarks of southwestern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas has all the fun without the crowds. Stonewater Cove Resort provides miles of trails for hiking or ATV rides, zip lines, canoes, kayaks, water skiing, sunset cruises and just about anything else you can think of for a perfect day out on the lake. Head into nearby Branson to catch any of a number of country music shows or take the family to the Silver Dollar City theme park.

 

Lake Champlain


The history here is unparalleled, with Lake Champlain playing a key role in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Visit Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point on the New York side for an education in history or search for “Champ” the lake monster to indulge your thrill-seeking side. The Moonlight Lady replicates ships from the 1920s that frequented the lake and offers multi-day cruises for exploring the area.

 

Lake Powell


With more coastline than California and famed for slot canyons, it’s easy to find a secret spot on Lake Powell for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. Rainbow Bridge on the Utah side is one of the world’s biggest natural bridges, and there are plenty of open spaces to build up a head of steam for water skiing and other sports. Given the unique geological formations along the reservoir, hikers and those on Jeep tours are rewarded with breathtaking views.

 

Top Safari Destinations

Ask anyone who’s been on safari, and you’ll hear all about the transcendent beauty of sunsets, the majesty of the vast open spaces, the thrill of getting up close and personal with exotic animals. It’ll leave you with only one conclusion: You have to go see for yourself. As Richard Mullin said, “The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa – for he has so much to look forward to.” Now that’s it decided you’re going, the question is which area you should choose for your safari.

 

Kenya / Tanzania

When most people picture a safari, they’re thinking of East Africa. The great migration of wildebeest and zebras takes place annually across Tanzania’s Serengeti Plain and Kenya’s Masai Mara. Hundreds of thousands of animals make the trek in search of grass to graze on. The Maasai people provide an enriching cultural exchange. Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is rich in wildlife, while Olduvai Gorge is a goldmine for the study of human evolution. Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya are the tallest mountains in Africa and make for excellent, if challenging, climbing.

 

Botswana

Though it’s nearly 1,000 miles long, the Okavango River never does quite find its way to the sea, instead of crashing into the sands of the Kalahari Desert to form the sublime Okavango Delta, a maze of swamp, salt and lakes that provides a staging area for a dramatic interplay of animals large and small. Botswana attracts colorful birds, a huge migration of zebra and large numbers of elephants. The San people, the famed Bushmen of the Kalahari, share insights on their culture and its relationship to the natural world.

 

South Africa / Namibia

A safari in South Africa offers loads of advantages. First, you can pair it with time in the spectacular city of Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands. Second, malaria-free reserves make it an ideal choice for families with young children. Private game reserves are packed with lions, leopards, elephants, impalas, and zebra. To the northwest, Namibia is a vast wilderness of sand dunes where elephants, lions, and endangered black rhinos manage to eke out a living and thousands of birds, including flamingos and pelicans, flock to the infamous Skeleton Coast.

 

Zambia / Zimbabwe

Separated by the Zambezi River, these two countries are more or less defined by water, making them excellent venues for abundant wildlife. The main attraction is Victoria Falls, “The Smoke That Thunders,” but each country also offers national parks filled with Cape buffalo, impalas, zebras and elephants, among many more diverse species. Zambia’s Kafue National Park is a great place for leopard-spotting, while Zimbabwe boasts splendid game-viewing along the shores of Lake Kariba.

 

Uganda / Rwanda

In the highlands of the Virunga Mountains that straddle these two countries, you’ll find an entirely different and rare game: gorillas. Only a few hundred mountain gorillas are left in their natural habitat, and they offer a fascinating study in primate behavior. It is in Uganda that Lake Victoria drains into the Nile River, and Queen Elizabeth National Park is home to traditional safari species. Rwanda is renowned for its wide variety of bird and plant species, including more than 100 varieties of orchids.